Today, cloud computing services include public and private clouds. A public cloud is offered as a service, usually over an Internet connection. On the other hand, private cloud implementations are deployed inside the firewall, and managed by the user organization.
The private cloud implementation is a new approach to computing wherein corporate IT infrastructure is available as a ubiquitous, easily accessible and reliable utility service. Along with qualities such as self-service, pay-as-you-go charges, on-demand provisioning and scalability, private cloud implementations eliminate the ‘rewrite everything’ effect of public cloud computing. These cloud setups offer the trusted control that users seek while ensuring that IT meets the security, control, service levels and compliance requirements of the business.
Within a private cloud implementation, business and application owners can use the infrastructure as a standard service without having to bother about the complexities of servers, storage and networks. Organizations pay only for what they use, and are billed on a subscription (time-based) basis with little or no upfront cost. Private cloud implementations keep the benefits of cloud computing under the control of enterprise IT while increasing business opportunities for service providers to introduce choice into cloud services.
Private clouds have the ability to work with every application, both current and future. The typical private cloud implementation serves many types of users in a variety of business settings: corporate and division offices, business partners, raw material suppliers, resellers, distributors, and production and supply chain entities.
Building a private cloud
While most businesses understand the private cloud implementation’s benefits, many do not know how to build one. Cloud computing and private cloud implementations operate at the intersection of computing, networking and virtualization. With these technologies, customers can create dynamic virtualized infrastructures that will take advantage of private cloud solutions in an evolutionary manner.
The movement toward cloud computing began for the enterprise with data center virtualization and the consolidation of server, storage and network resources. This helped reduce redundancy, wasted space and equipment.
Virtualization decouples the physical IT infrastructure from the hosted applications and services, thus allowing greater efficiency and flexibility into processes. The virtualization of servers, storage and networks enables the mobility of applications and data—not just across servers and storage arrays in the same data center, but also across data centers and networks. Consolidation is a critical application of virtualization, enabling IT departments to regain control of distributed resources by creating shared pools of standardized resources which can be rationalized and centrally managed.
Enterprises that want to begin moving toward private cloud implementations can start with internal, self-built clouds, utilizing virtualization for consolidation and automation. Through automation, data centers systematically remove manual labor requirements for the run-time operation. Automation reduces operating expenses through on-demand reallocation of computing resources and run-time response to capacity demands. It eliminates helpdesk tickets for automated response scenarios, and aids integrated system management and measurement.
Self-service and metering (feedback about the cost of allocated resources) can be offered in addition to automation. Self-service and metering facilitate the management and extension of the user experience. With the transition to an on-demand service, the private cloud implementation’s cost structure is dramatically reduced, since the user utilizes and pays for only what is needed at a specific moment.
Today, data centers, with their silos environment and high costs, have less than 15% of production workloads running on virtual machines. As more organizations try to reduce costs using server virtualization technologies, the virtual machine will become the default application platform and help reduce the enterprise data center’s TCO. In order to achieve this, all servers must have a consistent and ubiquitous set of network and storage capabilities.
One of the most efficient ways to deliver these capabilities is to deploy a unified fabric. This gives all servers (physical and virtual) access to the SAN, thus allowing further storage consolidation, increased efficiency and cost savings.
An enterprise private cloud implementation’s design must be transparent. It should enable rapid on-demand deployment, automation, integrated operations and monitoring of the underlying infrastructure. Ecosystem vendor technologies must be interwoven to form the foundation of an end-to-end cloud infrastructure. Such private cloud architectures bring together computing, network, storage access and virtualization resources into a scalable modular design which can be managed efficiently.
Initially, most private cloud implementations are expected to be made almost entirely using internal resources. A few applications like email archiving, document management systems and data backup can be migrated on to the private cloud implementation. As these models stabilize and organizations scale up, more business-critical applications can be moved on to the cloud. This helps organizations to deliver internal IT services more effectively in a cost-effective manner.
About the author: Sumit Mukhija is the national sales manager (data center) for Cisco India & SAARC. He has over 14 years of experience in the storage industry. He’s a certified SAN designer with in-depth understanding of the storage and fiber channel SAN switching market and technologies.
This was first published in September 2010